28 February 2023
Andrew Christie of J & E Hall was presented with the Institute of Refrigeration (IOR) RACHP Engineering Technicians’ Section Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by ACR Journal, at the 122nd IOR Annual Dinner in London.
A time-served refrigeration engineer with over 40 years of experience, Andrew began his apprenticeship at HTI in Swansea while studying mechanical engineering. After transferring to the company’s Cardiff branch, he went on to serve 20 years before a move to Johnsons Controls, where he continued his responsibilities for service and repair on industrial and commercial refrigeration.
Appointed as a supervisor at J & E Hall five years later, Andrew has retained his service responsibilities, in addition to mentoring apprentices and other people who are improving their skills and knowledge.
He was nominated by Andrew James, who served alongside him as an apprentice and highlighted a high level of dedication, customer service and a ‘can do’ attitude. He added: “Andrew has excelled as an engineer with lifelong learning and is an inspiration to his peers and many engineers starting in the industry. He’s always the first on site and the last to leave, never leaving a job unfinished. He is always committed to ensuring a first-time fix and is willing to work long hours, having missed many family events to get the job done. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his support and mentoring.”
Andrew Christie said: “I was over the moon even being nominated for this award, and it means a lot knowing that someone thought enough to put me forward. I’m always happy in a pair of overalls working on site; I’m not sure I scrub up too well for anything else. I take such pleasure in working with younger people to whom I can pass on my knowledge and experience, and I have seen over the years apprentices go on to own their own companies and expand their careers. It’s starting to change a bit now though, as they are showing me apps and comparators on their phones as technology advances!”
The judges commented: This is an individual who embraces a challenge. He has stepped up to the monumental technological, environmental and regulatory changes he has faced over 40 years in the industry and even welcomed them.”
Alexander Cohr Pachai
The J & E Hall Gold Medal, recognising the most noteworthy practical contribution to the field of innovation in refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump technology, was presented to Alexander Cohr Pachai for his contribution to the growing acceptance of natural working fluids in a wider range of applications – particularly carbon dioxide. Currently the chair of the International Institute of Refrigeration's Safety Working Group and chapter lead author on industrial refrigeration for UNEP's Refrigeration Technical Options Report, he is known for consistently sharing his expertise with the industry through UNEP, the International Institute of Refrigeration and of course the IOR.
The Ted Perry Award for Student Research was given to Henrique Lagoeiro, studying at London South Bank University, for his PhD research on decarbonising heating and cooling. His work was described by the judges as “original with high potential impact” and something that could be “rolled out worldwide and adapted to different applications from data centre cooling to district heating”.
Dr Dermot Cotter
The Lightfoot Medal for the best IOR Talk and Paper of the 2021/22 session was awarded to Dr Dermot Cotter of Star Refrigeration for his paper Carbon Dioxide Hazard Assessments and Safety System Requirements. The winner of this award is made by vote of IOR members. You can read the paper and see the recording of the presentation on the IOR website
Both Alexander Cohr Pachai and Henrique Lagoeiro have been invited to give talks to IOR members in the next papers programme to share their work in more detail with the RACHP Community.
To find out more about the awards that the IOR makes each year and how to enter for next year, visit https://bit.ly/IORAwards
President puts focus on diversity drive
IOR president Graeme Fox, above, used his speech to focus on past, current and future work to promote inclusion and diversity in the RACHP industry, whilst addressing its skill shortage challenges.
The IOR says it has been working to attract a more diverse workforce to the sector and the speech showcased initiatives such as the Fantastic Fridges website. An online STEM resource for KS2, KS3 and KS4 children, the website will soon be expanded to include a section for 16- to 18-year-olds. Graeme Fox commented on the great work of IOR members who are also part of the STEM ambassadors’ scheme and how the IOR will further support them with new IOR STEM Ambassador kit bags. The recent partnership between STEMAZING and the IOR was also mentioned - thanks to the IOR president’s fund, three female members will be able to attend the STEMAZING Training Academy providing them with the resources to present exciting STEM sessions to school children.
The above campaigns, along with other long-term initiatives such as the IOR’s Women in RACHP Network, are making progress in improving awareness of diversity in the industry but much remains to be done as it is estimated that only 17/18% of the RACHP workforce is female and just 4% is from an ethnic minority. The president reminded guests and members that there is also much to gain in promoting inclusivity and diversity. He said: “A more diverse workforce in terms of gender, ethnicity or a more neuro-diverse one is more dynamic, has different viewpoints and perspectives from which to attempt to find solutions to problems as they might occur – so we do need to collectively work on improving our performance here.”
This led to the final part of his speech where he announced the participation of the IOR in the first-ever pan-industry gathering to address diversity and inclusivity with bigger-picture collective thinking. Organisations including BESA, FETA, CIBSE, the Women’s Engineering Society, the Association of Black and Ethnic Minority Engineers (ABFE-UK), ASHRAE and the Black Professionals In Construction Network will take part with the aim to tackle this issue which has been a long-term problem for the engineering sector.